Finding opportunity in uncertainty

The 2022 CEO Outlook draws on the perspectives of 1,325 global CEOs across 11 markets to provide insight into their 3-year outlook on the business and economic landscapes. The survey also reveals shifts in strategy and viewpoints from the KPMG CEO Outlook Pulse Survey, conducted ahead of the Russian government's invasion of Ukraine.

The business landscape over the last three years has been enormously challenging for business leaders. A global pandemic, inflationary pressures, geopolitical tensions, and a looming recession – and all happening in quick succession. Despite this, following a global KPMG survey on CEOs including those from East Africa, it is positive to see that our East Africa CEOs are optimistic about the growth prospects of their countries, industries, and companies. They are taking some short-term steps in various areas of their strategies to build resilience in response to geopolitics and the anticipated recession.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy remains important to CEOs despite the lack of a generally accepted Standard to measure agreed metrics. Yet demands by their diverse stakeholders and more specifically, the institutional investors for increased reporting and transparency on ESG are mounting. To meet stakeholder/investor expectations around consistent and robust sustainability reporting, 82 percent of East Africa CEOs expect to rely increasingly on external assurance of their ESG data.

Carrying on from steps taken in response to the pandemic, East Africa CEOs agree that the hybrid/ remote work has had some positive impact on their organizations including in hiring, employee retention, morale, collaboration, and innovation. Although 78 percent see a return to in-person work over the longterm for roles traditionally based in the office, East Africa CEOs are embracing both methods.

Transforming organizations digitally to drive growth is a priority for CEOs and 71 percent of East Africa CEOs are placing more capital investments in buying new technology and view new partnerships as critical in maintaining their pace in digital transformation. In securing their organizations against cyber crime, they underscore protecting their partner ecosystem and supply chain just as important as building their organizations’ cyber defenses.

Organizations are likely to operate in an uncertain world for the foreseeable future although East Africa CEOs, unlike their global counterparts, are indifferent about the anticipated recession, they agree that a recession would affect their anticipated earnings and 84 percent say that they are focusing on boosting productivity. Ultimately, agility to navigate the current challenges and minimize potential disruptions of operations will be key to maintaining the growth trajectory.

Benson Ndungu
Senior Partner and CEO
KPMG East Africa